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Superman 227
"The Super-Revenge Of The Phantom Zone Prisoner!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND (80 Page Giant #72) June - July, 1970

Story: Unknown Art: Curt Swan and George Klein

(Originally Reviewed On 05/18/02)

Within the twilight dimension known as the Phantom Zone, reside the intangible forms of Kryptonian criminals who were imprisoned there by Kryptonian law prior to the destruction of Krypton! These villains hate the Man of Steel, for he possesses powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men, as they would, were they not incarcerated. The day comes when Superman must bring a Phantom Zoner into our dimension, and soon learns that he is the recipient of... "The Super-Revenge Of The Phantom Zone Prisoner!" On the splash page, Superman proves to be more powerful than the locomotive which Quex-Ul sees to pound him with, while The Prisoner From The Phantom Zone vows to defeat the Man of Steel with a new variety of Kryptonite... Gold! At the Fortress of Solitude, The Man of Steel tests a new invention, while his cousin, Supergirl watches his progress, as Mon-El speaks to them via the Zone-O-Phone, while Jax-Ur, Quex-Ul, and another criminal watch. The invention enables Superman to view The Phantom Zone, and Mon-El is unlike the other inhabitants, for he was placed within this dimension in order to preserve his life until a cure for lead poisoning could be found (Not until The 30th Century would the Legionnaire known as Brainiac 5 would be able to find a cure!)

Quex-Ul steps forward and insists that he be freed from The Phantom Zone, now that his sentence has ended, but The Man of Steel wonders if he's telling the truth. He tells Superman of a safe containing Quex-Ul's records surviving the explosion of Krypton, and which can be found on the lunar surface of the moon. Superman dispatches one of his robots to retrieve the safe, for it has been transformed by the explosion into Green Kryptonite, the one substance which can kill him. On the moon, the robot uses its strength to retrieve the records from the transformed safe. He sees the radio-visual tapes, which were protected by the thick Kryptonian metal from being damaged. Superman reviews the tape regarding Quex-Ul with a device which is designed to translate the language of Krypton into English! Quex-Ul was charged with slaying the rare Rondor Creatures...

The radiations from their horns could heal many diseases and the slaying of these beasts was outlawed. One day, several dead Rondors are found... minus their curative horns. A scientist named Quex-Ul opened a clinic called The Hall of Healing, and his healing machines which he invented cured his clients as well as the Rondors... for a price! Having suspicions, the authorities raid The Hall and find Rondor horns within each of Quex-Ul's "devices" and he confesses slaying them so that the patients would pay him to be healed, rather than being receive free treatment from the Rondors. The trial of Quex-Ul is brief, and found guilty, he is sent into The Phantom Zone, and Superman gapes in astonishment, for the leader of the Justice Council is none other than Jor-El, The Man of Steel's father! Eighteen Kryptonian Sun Cycles or 25 Earth years are to be his sentence, which expires today!

The Man of Steel faces a dilemma, for if he were to release Quex-Ul, he would gain powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman begins his patrol of Metropolis, while the Phantom Zoners send their telepathic message urging for Quex-Ul's release, and The Man of Steel must see that justice is served. On the roof of the Daily Planet, he is joined by Perry White, who'll cover the release of Quex-Ul, and even the gruff editor has doubts about the impending release. Quex-Ul is freed from The Phantom Zone with the use of a Phantom Zone Ray-Gun brought from The Fortress of Solitude. Quex-Ul knows that Superman is the son of Jor-El and intends to defeat The Man of Steel with Gold Kryptonite, while Superman destroys The Phantom Zone Ray-Gun. Perry White sees that now the world has two Supermen... one which stands for good, and one which stands for evil!

At a junkyard filled with old railroad trains and engines, Superman confronts Quex-Ul, who hurls a train at him, and The Man of Steel tells him that it's folly to try to hurt him since he's invulnerable. Quex-Ul suddenly calls for a truce, for his telescopic-vision has spotted an earthman in trouble, while The Man of Steel wonders if this could be a trick! Quex-Ul flies swiftly to a construction site, where he catches the falling worker, and Superman is astonished to see this parolee from The Phantom Zone perform a good deed. Quex-Ul leaves, determined to gather up the scrap metal he needs to create Gold Kryptonite, and The Man of Steel begins to wonder if Quex-Ul is truly guilty of the crime for which he was convicted? Superman sends himself through the time barrier at super-speed...

He materializes on the planet Krypton, and sees the Rondors being slain by someone who is not Quex-Ul. Quex-Ul arrives to confront the poacher who slew the Rondors, intending to contact the authorities, but is hypnotized by a jewel from The Fire Falls, and is forced to obey his commands of opening the fake hall of healing, where Rog-Ar will earn the profits, and if Quex-Ul is captured, he will take the fall. Superman sees that Quex-Ul was framed, and using the anti-gravity belt to enable him to escape Krypton until he reaches Earth's yellow sun, The Man of Steel returns to 1962. In the desert, Quex-Ul reshaping the abandoned derrick girders into a giant tower which is designed to attract a Gold Kryptonite meteor for his scheme!

Quex-Ul builds a remote-control device to activate the tower from a discreet distance, and The Gold Kryptonite meteor is drawn to Earth, where it is set into a waiting lead box, so that he can carry it with safety. As he carries the lead box, Quex-Ul recalls seeing a Kryptonian creature be exposed to the radiations of Gold Kryptonite and was slain in a collision with a Sputnik space capsule. The Man of Steel meet with The Maid of Might, and both wonder can be done to repay Quex-Ul for the time served for a crime he did not commit.

Supergirl goes to search the seven seas, while Superman heads for Metropolis, each in search of Quex-Ul, who is at the ocean's bottom, planting the lead box within a rocky crevice, then seizes a submarine, trapping it in the selfsame crevice. When the sub is released by The Man of Steel, he will be exposed to The Gold Kryptonite! Once out of the water, Quex-Ul heads for a nearby volcano, where he'll hide and watch what occurs. At The Daily Planet, mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent pulls a news alert from the teletype about a trapped sub near Finjan Island, and knows that this is a job for Superman! Supergirl finds Quex-Ul , and both watch Superman heading for the Gold Kryptonite trap, which will cause him to lose his super-powers... forever!

Supergirl tells Quex-Ul about Superman's discovery of his innocence, and the former Phantom Zoner realizes that he was wrong to hate both Jor-El and his son for sending him into The Phantom Zone, and now aware of this, Quex-Ul goes to save The Man of Steel at all cost! Flying from the volcano, Quex-Ul passes Superman, and heads for the ocean floor, where in saving the sub, he is exposed to The Gold Kryptonite, and is now a mortal man. Supergirl and Superman sees his sacrifice via their telescopic-vision, out of range of The Gold Kryptonite, enabling them to save his life.

On the isle, Quex-Ul is revived, and although Superman is worried that the former Phantom Zoner knows all about them and their secret identities, they discover that the Gold Kryptonite has given him amnesia! They bring him back to Metropolis, where Superman recommends him for a job in the Daily Planet's production department, with Perry White's blessing. The Man of Steel knows that Quex-Ul will not remember his time in the Phantom Zone or that he's from the same planet as Superman, but The Man of Tomorrow can only wonder what will be the result when the time comes to release another Phantom Zoner!

Curt Swan and George Klein provide crisp, clean art for this adventure, and expertly emphasize the drama of the story.

Although a prison, it enabled Mon-El to survive into the 30th Century until a cure was found for his lead poisoning.

Quex-Ul and other aspects of the late planet Krypton would return in the Phantom Zone mini-series by Steve Gerber and Gene Colan. Writer Gerber would have production worker Charlie Kweskill suffering strange dreams, which would soon be followed by a visit from his fellow Phantom Zone bretheren.

This twilight dimension was referred to in the first Superman movie, resembling a vinyl record cover, and has also appeared in the WB Superman cartoon.

Clearly the job of production manager is for those with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.

This Review Is Respectfully Dedicated To Bob Rozakis, Man And Answer Man.

Steve Chung
"The Super-Review Of The Phantom Zone Prisoner!"